Mood Food: What To Eat For Better Mental Health!

24.04.18 Learn Blog SumoSalad

You might not be surprised to hear unhealthy dietary habits are a major contributor to many common chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. You might, however, be surprised to learn how much a poor diet also plays a major role in mental disorders, including depression and dementia. There is now extensive research that shows how an unhealthy diet is linked to risks of developing depression and mental health issues.

The connection between mood and food also explains why we get (h)angry when we’re hungry, may start to lose concentration when we haven’t eaten for a while or feel happy and content after a delicious meal. Therefore a healthy diet can actually help you manage and strengthen your mental health!

Mother Nature has even provided us with nutrient-dense whole foods that can assist in reducing certain symptoms or reactions associated with mental health ailments. Here are five foods that keep your mind working at it’s best and brightest!

Whole Grains
Many whole grains are naturally rich in an amino acid called tryptophan, which your body needs to produce serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin, the “feel-good hormone,” improves mood and relaxes brain and body, while melatonin helps establish and maintain steady sleep cycles. Foods high in tryptophan can help keep depression at bay and promote healthy sleeping patterns that are very important to mental health and well-being!

Whole grains also work to maintain steady blood sugar, which not only keeps you feeling satisfied for longer but also stabilises your mood. Complex carbs release glucose slowly providing a steady source of fuel for the brain and body. Healthy sources of complex carbohydrates include whole-wheat products, bulgur, oats, wild rice, barley and beans.
Sumo Solution: Try our made-to-order Commando Nourish Bowl of mesclun lettuce, broccoli, brown rice and quinoa, roasted pumpkin, boiled egg, haloumi, pepitas and your choice of protein or Grains & Greens with freekah, kale & tahini dressing from the deli!

Omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild cold water fish (salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel), sesame seeds, chia seeds, pepitas, sunflower seeds, chickpeas and beans have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other mental disorders. This is likely because of the effect omega-3s have on the production of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals responsible for our moods), including dopamine and serotonin. By supporting the synapses in the brain, omega-3s boost learning and memory and serve as anti-inflammatories.
Sumo Solution: Try our made-to-order Pepper Smoked Tassie Salmon with fresh avocado, cucumber, red onion, tomato, carrot, dill, mixed leaf lettuce & seeded mustard vinaigrette or Summer Pepper Smoked Salmon with lentils, tabbouleh & slivered almonds from the deli.

Leafy Greens
Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, romaine and broccoli are high in folic acid, which is important for mood regulation, energy and quality sleep. They can positively impact serotonin levels and boost your mood. Deficiencies in folate, as well as other B vitamins, have been linked with higher rates of depression, fatigue and insomnia. Broccoli also contains selenium, a trace mineral that plays an important role in our immune system functioning, reproduction and thyroid hormone metabolism. Some studies suggest that low levels of selenium can also contribute to depression, anxiety and fatigue.
Sumo Solution: Try our made-to-order Green Goddess Grain Bowl grilled free range chicken, baby spinach, avocado, broccoli, Lebanese cucumbers, fresh mint & pepita seeds on a bed of steamed brown rice, red & white quinoa or Seasonal Greens with teriyaki dressing from the deli.

Lean Protein
Eating protein with every meal (think fish, chicken, eggs, nuts, yogurt, soy, beans and lentils) can help slow the absorption of carbohydrates in your blood, prevent blood sugar crashes and increase the release of dopamine and norepinephrine, which can improve your mood and energy for several hours after eating.

By eating foods like turkey, tuna, and chicken, which have the amino acid, tryptophan, it will help you make serotonin which helps to clear your mind and boost your energy. It’s a good idea to eat a healthy, low-glycemic carbohydrate source with the protein (as opposed to following a stringent low carb diet) as a diet too high in protein and too low in carbs will make most people feel moody.
Sumo Solution: Try our made-to-order Commando Nourish Bowl or Chicken & Pumpkin with honey, lime & coriander dressing from the deli.



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